EDITOR'S NOTE: Welcome to Worst. Night. Ever.—the summer series where Mercury writers are forced to attend events they'd never EVER go to voluntarily... and then write about 'em!

Every week, in our never-ending search for fun stuff for you to do, someone suggests an event that's the equivalent of shooting burning acid into our eyes—even though a more enlightened person might love it! Hence, these "risky" events are often unfairly pushed aside. WELL, NO MORE. Instead of allowing these events to disappear, we attend them, write about them, and then sit there uncomfortably while you laugh and point at our misery. If the event makes our writer uncomfortable, we force them to go. That's how Worst. Night. Ever. works.

NOTE: Everyone's taste is different, right? So while attending a "naked ecstatic dance workshop" might make one person absolutely miserable, another would probably love it! As always, we insist that our writers stay for at least two hours (or until the event is over, whichever comes first). And most importantly, they are not allowed to get drunk, or use any substances (drugs) or distractions (phone/reading material) to dull the pain they may experience. Let's begin.


SHELBY R. KING'S WORST. NIGHT. EVER.: THE RUGGED MANIAC RUN

  • Coral Richelderfer

I did not want to be covered in mud.

Scratch that. I was dreading the thought of being covered head-to-toe in gross, sticky mud. I didn't want it in my face, I hated the thought of getting it in my eyes, and I had no idea what I was going to do if it got near my mouth (because I couldn't wipe my mouth if my hands were covered in mud). I had visions of showering, bathing, even using a pressure washer—and still having mud in all of my parts. Do you get what I'm saying? All of my parts. And yet? I still signed up for the obstacle mud run "Rugged Maniac," whose name, if you ask me, is pure NO. The website promised "25 epic obstacles and one rockin' party!" (Ew!), and threatened that I would "crawl through underground tunnels, leap over fire, and experience some BIG new obstacles (trampolines?!)!" Mud-covered trampolines? Great.

I was certainly not going to ruin any of my own clothes doing this, so I went to Goodwill to pick out an outfit on the Merc's tab. Within 10 minutes of entering the store, I exited with the little number in this picture, including snazzy silver shoes. I looked awesome, and wearing it put me in a better mood.

I showed up at the race (held at Portland International Raceway), and oddly, amid thousands of participants and spectators, I was the only person in a gold satin cocktail dress. Huh. Weird.

After an interminable wait, the announcer's voice finally came over the loudspeaker and yelled some stuff, and the participants yelled some stuff, and then BANG! a gun went off, and we were off like an entitled herd of Portland cattle. At first I just kinda jogged along and wondered when the obstacles were going to start. I figured it was probably going to be pretty easy, considering it was only a three-mile race.

I was wrong.

The first obstacle was called "The Trenches." Now, just so you know, I'm barely over five feet tall, and my legs are approximately the same length as a corgi's. These trenches were seriously wide, and I suppose the idea was to get a running start and just leap all graceful and gazelle-like over each of them, barely touching the ground between each trench, thereby avoiding a mud bath. Not me. I had to leap, stutter step, stop, regroup. Leap, stutter step, stop, regroup. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I thought it would never end, but it did, and (surprise!) I hadn't fallen in (yet).

Here's another fun fact about me: I'm terrified of heights. I hate them. I haaaaaate them. Also, please remember my short legs. One obstacle involved climbing a mountainous wall—probably not higher than 20 feet, but that's a skyscraper to shorties like myself—as well as a particularly torturous giant net that was strung 10 feet above the ground.

But let's talk about the mud. Better yet, let's look at it.

My nightmare became reality at an obstacle called the "Commando Crawl." As soon as I slid face-first down the obstacle's tube, muddy water went RIGHT IN MY EYE. I didn't even want to think about where else I might have muddy water. And, why yes, there was real barbed wire strung above me. The only thing saving me from crying was the very strong odor of bleach, or chlorine, or some other disinfecting chemical (THAT GOT IN MY EYE) every time I was forced to submerge myself in muck.

  • Coral Richelderfer

Thank you for not giving me norovirus, race organizers.

I won't bore you with details of the other 18 or so obstacles I conquered over these 3.1 miles, but here are some highlights: There was the "Pyromaniac," which meant jumping over/through actual FIRE. (Heyyyy... is satin flammable?) There was "The Ringer," swinging from ring to ring over mud water (I fell in immediately); there was "The Gauntlet," in which I attempted to run across a flimsy metal plank while giant punching bags swung back and forth (Hello, mud water, my old friend/I've come to talk with you again); and the "Napoleon Complex," where I had to lift my entire body up and over a slimy, muddy, wet wall. I made it, but only because there's no way someone as short as me was going to get beat by an obstacle whose name was intended to shame short people. Long story short, it was REALLY HARD.

The grand finale included crossing a hellish rope web and going down a huge slide into yet another vast cesspool of chemical-infused mud water.

It was all so very gross—BUT, I got a finishers' medal, a banana, a T-shirt, and a beer. (Woo hoo!) I also got multiple bruises on my body and ego, but if you know me, that's par for the course. Was it my Worst. Night. Ever.? Well, I didn't get norovirus, giardia, or E. coli, so I guess it could have been worse. Right?

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  • Fran├žois Vigneault

NED LANNAMANN'S WORST. NIGHT. EVER.: COLLECTORS WEST GUN AND KNIFE SHOW

As you might have guessed (from my employment at this paper), I didn't grow up around guns. I don't have any affection for or interest in guns. I don't own or use guns. I have never fired a real one. I doubt I ever will. I don't say this to proselytize, but rather to provide a frame of reference. I am not a person even casually interested in guns in real life, so therefore I was a suitable candidate to attend the Collectors West Gun and Knife Show at the Expo Center.

(Sidebar: Actually, I think guns in books and movies are neat. I really like movies with lots of shootouts in them, and will happily watch a full weekend's worth of movies featuring guns and be thrilled by each and every bang. Bang bang bang! But if you bring a real gun into the room? No thanks.)

  • Ned Lannaman

There are a few converging elements at the Collectors West Gun and Knife Show—as suggested by the event's title, there are the collectors, who deal in antiques. This stuff is actually kind of cool. I saw some old-timey rifles—some of them probably killed buffalo! I mean bison. And surely two or three of them shot a wolf. Or maybe even a cattle rustler!

Then there are the handguns, which are the third shittiest invention mankind has ever produced. (Assault rifles are the first shittiest, and there were some of these at the show, too; Keurigs are the second shittiest.) Unlike rifles, which are used to kill edible game, like bears and stuff, handguns are meant only to kill other people. They're intended to be concealed invisibly in your pocket, to be pulled out in situations in which another human being is intended to die. Ever see someone hunt a deer with a handgun? No, you haven't. Ever see someone pop a duck out of the sky with a pistol? You lie. Follow-up question: What percentage of people killed by guns in the US this year were killed by handguns? I don't know either. But the overwhelming majority, right?

Then there are the knives. Knives are bad-ass. I have no quarrel with you, knives. I will go see a knife show any day of the week. Stuff's gotta get cut somehow, amirite? Strings, and... meat... and, um... vines and stuff. Go, knives!

  • Ned Lannaman

THEN there are the survivalists. The SHTF crowd. The "preppers." The doomsday-sayers. The "get off my land" dudes (they're all dudes). This was the weirdest, most interesting, scariest/funniest part of the gun show. SHTF, if you don't know, stands for "Shit Hits the Fan," and there is a robust sub-sect of grown white men who deeply and truly believe that—in our lifetime—the government will collapse, society will crumble, and all preceding traces of human evolution, interaction, and development will be instantaneously eradicated, and that every surviving person will become a rabid, murderous psychopath, out to trespass upon the homesteads and gorge upon the stockpiles of good, honest, hard-working SHTFers. As everybody else knows, SHTFers are completely crazy, so it must be nice for them to get out of their bunkers six times a year and mingle with each other at the Collectors West Gun and Knife Show.

One man was handing out pieces of paper that contained a personal essay he'd written.

"Give this to your liberal friends," he instructed me, so that is what I am doing. Here you go!

His essay's called "'I'll Come to Your Place When SHTF'—No You Won't" and the gist of it is that you are not welcome at his house when the world ends. Because you are just going to infringe upon his stores of Nutter Butters and potable water! Do your own prepping, you lazy good-for-nothings.

The piece also suggests that his time-consuming hobby of SHTFing has put a surprising strain on his marriage. In the online version of this article ["Worst. Night. Ever.: A Brainwashed Liberal from a Pinkie Commie Rag Checks Out the Gun and Knife Show," Blogtown, July 22], I provide a link to his essay, which has garnered 625 online comments so far—meaning that this author is exponentially more widely read than I, or anyone at this commie rag, will ever be. (I also recommend seeking out his website, 299days.com, which includes other eye-opening works like "Your Wife Never Got Raped by a Garden" and "Why I Would Trade 1.7 Million Hipsters for One Mildly Retarded Man."

This author was my favorite thing at the gun and knife show. Except for the beef jerky.

God Bless America.

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  • Fran├žois Vigneault

ERIK HENRIKSEN'S WORST. NIGHT. EVER.: THE SHERWOOD ROBIN HOOD FESTIVAL

Knowing that I'm a "history buff," a lot of people ask me, "Erik! What's your favorite bit of history?" My answer is always the same: My favorite bit of history is the historical reign of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, a tale of valor and violence and song.

(For those of you who aren't "history buffs," a quick "refresher"! Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was an old-timey English prince [of thieves] who took part in the Crusades, one of Christianity's many "outreach projects." Unfortunately, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was captured by foreigners and taken to a filthy dungeon in exotic Jerusalem. Luckily, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves escaped, and along the way became pals with Morgan Freeman. Together, the two returned to England—only to find that while Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was off on his damn-fool idealistic crusade, England had been conquered by the sheriff of Nottingham and an evil witch! Vowing to free his beloved homeland, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Morgan Freeman moved into a h-h-haunted forest, where, along with Little John, Friar Tuck, and Christian Slater, they became terrorists. Then a maid, Maid Marian, fell in love with Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves [she saw him swimming naked], the sheriff of Nottingham died [I forget how], and Sean Connery showed up and threw a party [cool!]. And thus Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves became Robin Hood: King of Thieves, the first president of the United States and the man who laid the groundwork for the equitably shared wealth that we all enjoy today. History! I can't get enough of it!)

So you can see why attending the Sherwood Robin Hood Festival—an event that appears to be based entirely around the fairly underwhelming fact that Sherwood, Oregon, happens to share a name with Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, England—was my Worst. Night. Ever. What if they got some historical detail wrong? THAT'D DRIVE ME NUTS! Or, even worse, what if Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves wasn't even there? Or, even worse, what if the sheriff of Nottingham's evil witch was there instead?

Still, the die had been cast. So I put on my finest jorts, spent a few minutes thinking about the lessons we can all learn from the historical saga of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (swim naked to meet ladies), and then drove out to Sherwood. My spirits were high! I'd make the best of this yet!

Well, I HAD A TERRIBLE TIME.

  • Alison Hallett

...JUST KIDDING!

I HAD A GREAT TIME!

  • Alison Hallett

The first thing I realized was that I was underdressed! Just about everyone there was in "historick garbe"—so to "blend in," I spent several dollars on a Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves thievin' cap, lovingly made out of felt, garnished with a peacock feather and a sticker.

Then it was time to "see the sights," which included the grandest event the Sherwood Robin Hood Festival has to offer: the Summer Parade, which proudly featured the following historically accurate entries: Star Wars Stormtroopers wearing Robin Hood hats; US Bank employees being towed by a tractor; and a semi truck getting stuck for 10 minutes while trying to make a turn.

AND THERE WAS OTHER STUFF TOO, because apparently every dentist in Sherwood takes part in the parade, and each one apparently tries to outdo the others to look the most successful. Usually it came down to how nice their car was, but the dentist who clearly won (IMHO) was the dentist who had a car PULLING A BOAT.

Oh, and there were also Renaissance faire-style cosplayers, horses, marching bands, and a lot of people dressed up like Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. There were also more than a few young women dressed up as badass, Katniss-style archers, and many of them were very pretty, but I did not take any pictures of them because I didn't want to seem like a pervert.

SPEAKING OF PERVERTS! There was also a race car—I shit you not, an itty-bitty little race car

  • Erik Henriksen

—bearing the URL for healthyintimacy.net. That, as it turns out, belongs to the Beaverton-based "Northwest Coalition for Healthy Intimacy," "an organization dedicated to empowering and supporting adults, teens, children, families, and communities in building healthy relationships and educating about the negative effects of pornography and unhealthy sexualization."

Now, I don't know if this guy drives around all the time in his little healthyintimacy.mobile or if he saves it for special occasions, but I do know that if you're worried about the negative effects of pornography and unhealthy sexualization, you can get a discount for one of the Northwest Coalition of Healthy Intimacy's anti-porn seminars by using the promo code ROBINHOOD. That promo code is either directly targeted at Sherwood's fuck-crazed, come-slathered sex deviants, OR directly targeted at anyone who's ever seen the 35mm erotic adventure, on right.

Moving on from the parade and its anti-porn zealots in MarioKarts, there was also a bunch of other stuff SUCH AS...

• A bunch of stages with high schoolers dancing on them!
• A teenager with a magic marker mustache who was dressed as a sinister wizard!
• Swords! Swords you could buy! But I spent all my money on that stupid hat. :(
• Shaved ice!

An archery competition that took place at a separate location in Sherwood, but it was really hot out so I didn't go to that!

A very nice park just a short walk away from the Robin Hood Festival that was so goddamn nice it made me want to move to Sherwood—so maybe that's where I'll move once I can't afford to live in Portland anymore!

Now, not to get too tied up in the "details," but to my highly trained eye, there were, of course, a few small things that would have greatly improved the accuracy and excitement of the Sherwood Robin Hood Festival... yet were, mysteriously, nowhere to be seen. FOR EXAMPLE...

• Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
• Morgan Freeman
• Christian Slater
• Christian Slater driving the healthyintimacy.mobile

And so, as a "history buff," I must probe myself with a searing question: Could the Sherwood Robin Hood Festival be a touch more historically accurate to the thrilling life and loves of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? Certainly. But were these glaring historical oversights and shameful inaccuracies enough to keep me from enjoying myself all the same? Hardly.

That's because I've had to do a lot of shit for Worst. Night. Ever. I've attended a burlesque show, I've been humiliated at a bicycle race, I survived a super-creepy doll show, and I've been trapped on a boat cruise for Mormon singles.

And now, dear readers, I've gone to the Sherwood Robin Hood Festival. And I had a great time! And maybe... just maybe... you did too. (Unless you were the kid pictured below. Cheer up, punk.)

  • Alison Hallett
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Want more Worst. Night. Ever!? Read about Marjorie Skinner's kiteboarding catastrophe, Megan Burbank's goddess campout, and even more in the coming weeks at portlandmercury.com!